31 August 2013

31/08/2013 The end of the summer holiday

Cynicism? Well, hopefully, that will mark the end of little gobshites spending the night drinking in the park, making noise under my window and, most importantly, leaving a pile of rubbish around the bench when there is a bin not two metres away. I am sure the wildlife will appreciate the time off too. Grumpy old man? Ahem, have you read the name of this blog?
Right, let us get to work.

Time to make some room on the shelves too.

Dailuaine 28yo 1983/2012 (47.3%, whiskybase.com Archives, Hogshead, C#865, 265b): nose: wood, oranges, lemons, orange drops -- very neat anyway. This is not overly complex, but delicate and agreeable enough. Mouth: sharpish, lemoney. Again, orange drops come out, alongside polished oak. Finish: tangerine peels, polished furniture, Pine-Sol (SJ). Although not too complex, this is rather moreish ("My name is Moreish Mosh, or Mosh, for short.") Thanks to the good folks (and former rivals) at Whiskybase for the sample. 7/10

Glenlossie 1968 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice b.1980s): switching gears, here. This was much to my liking, when I had it the first time. Nose: a lot deeper than the previous! Mushroomy, earthy (JS), mossy and also fruity -- very much so, in fact: boiled raisins, stewed eldeberry. Mushrooms make an appreciated comeback late in the nosing process, roasted, this time. Mouth: spicy and peppery (JS); very balanced, though.Marmalade. Finish: marmalade bitterness (Seville oranges), a bit of wood and pepper again, which makes it slightly drying and prevents a higher rating. Great little dram nonetheless, this. 8/10

Invergordon 40yo 1964/2005 (48.1%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, C#57633, 105b): another old acquaintance. We need to reset the taste buds. Let us try the grain technique. Nose: this is wood juice, tonight -- polished wood, resinous, pine like, sandlewood and even incense. Quite a bit of sawdust, butterscotch, buttered pop corn (JS) and crusty banana cake with coconut shavings on top. Mouth: such a balance! Vanilla, coconut cream, marshmallows (JS). Finish: cigar boxes, a fleeting flash of blackcurrant, before it settles on cedar wood bitterness with something sweeter behind it -- is it treacle? Parma violets? An outstanding Invergordon, in any case. 8/10

Littlemill 24yo 1988/2012 (54.2%, The Whisky Man Sympathy for the Whisky, 159b): nose: musty and sweaty -- balls sweat (TMI?) Shoe polish, or grease, as they used to coat shoes with in yesteryears, gym shoes. "Like licking a saddle" (JS). Not very appealing, this one, if I am honest. Damp clothes and a bit of wood, after a minute. Patience helps solvents emerge, as well as some tame fruit. With water, same thing: solvent, wood, fruit, with a better balance. The fruit in question, I decide is overripe -- no! decaying apples. Mouth: flows on the tongue like water, despite the 54+% ABV. Sherbet, all kinds of citric sweets. Old slippers do not let you forget them, though. Finish: OLD SLIPPERS! It does not go as far as clogged sink, but it is well reminiscent of hiking boots and all kinds of footwear that have seen feet for too long. As usual, I like the originality well enough (no foot fetish here, before you ask), but it is more of a curiosity than proper enjoyment whisky. The finish is very long, so if you do not know what an old slipper tastes like, you have a big, fat chance to learn here (thanks mars for the sample). 6/10

9.72 17yo 1997/2013 Lockets honey and lemon lozenges (62.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 272b): what a difference with the previous! Nose: varnish, Parma violets (JS), heather, honeysuckle, even. It is all rather subtle, despite the fierce ABV. There is a tiny bit of pine tree sawdust and pine sap in the back, though the final impression is of something sweet -- not sure if it is marzipan, nougat, tablets or something else yet. Mouth: woah! the ABV makes itself known, here. It is powerful booze with infused pine sawdust. Rather anaesthetizing. Water makes it more palatable (no shit, Sherlock!) and sweeter, hinting at bakery. Finish: ample and warming, full of custard powder and cigar boxes. Water brings blueberry pancakes -- a nice touch. A more-than-decent Glen Grant (thanks JMcG for the sample). 7/10

20 August 2013

17/08/2013 Whisky Huligans

Have you ever noticed some recurrent particles in whisky names? "Ben" is one, "loch" is another and their meaning is obvious enough (mountain and lake, respectively). "Inver", "more" and "aber" or the obvious "glen" are other examples. There is also "dhu" that seems to come back a few times. Apparently, it is the phonetic spelling of dubh, which means black. A Dhu tasting? Might as well drop the 'd' and make it more open -- anything that has the 'hu' combination it is, then. Seeing as we are not particularly fond of rules imposed upon us, "Huligans" seems not too far-fetched.
The season calls for an outdoor do, which takes place in the countryside to boot, at sonicvince's.

The suspects: adc, JS, sonicvince and sonicM, dom666, ruckus, kruuk2, Psycho and myself.

The line up
But first, an aperitive.

Liqueur de Chicon: nose: vodka with some mint. It is quite subtle, but then it is served in a tumbler, so as to not pollute the few nosing glasses we have. Mouth: sweet and lively, rather agreeable. Finish: syrupy, minty and sweet. Nice, but where is the chicon in all this? (endive) An interesting drink, not what we expected, but so sweet it has to be drunk first, lest it becomes a guaranteed puke catalyst.

Dallas Dhu 1980/2001 (40%, GMP) (adc): nose: neutral enough, with some ash, plum eau-de-vie, white peach eau-de-vie, white peach stone. Mouth: dry, winy, peppery (green pepper). Finish: sharp, lemony, with a bit of chocolate, though it remains dry. Looking forward to it getting some oxidation, as it will certainly make this one creamier. In all honesty, this one is another illustration of the reason Dallas Dhu was closed in the first place, yet I like it as it is. 7/10

Tamdhu 8yo (43%, GMP The MacPhail's) (ruckus): nose: a lot more leather and burnt wood than in the previous. There is even a bit of peat smoke and cooling garden fire, before it lingers on forsythia. Mouth: slightly green, with green pepper. Finish: a lovely mix of green pepper and green stuff -- lively hazel. 7/10

Cardhu 12yo (40%, OB) (ruckus): "un whisky qu'on boit au Cardhu tour," according to kruuk2... Nose: Grany Smith apple, lovely and easy. Mouth: sweet and easy again, floral, lightly fruity. Finish: a little green (plant-stem juice) with some fruit. This is not a complex dram, not even really interesting, but it is lovely all the same. Dram of the day for adc.

sonicvince doing his Australian impression

Old Rhosdhu 1967/1999 (40%, OB The Original Whisky Collection) (me): nose: APPLE! Waxy apple or polish, wax, even. Something animal is there, behind (pork rind), as well as some dust. This is as consistent (read: steady) as the Croftengea, a few weeks ago... and as good. What a nose! Mouth: floral, balanced, thin and delightful. A touch of smoked something -- roasted apple seeds? Finish: long, vanilla-loaded and full of flowers. Caramelized sugar, after a bit. This is stunning. Although this is not the highest quality we have today, it is the dram of the day for me -- well glad to have one. :-) 9/10

Barbec-Hu ind-Hulgence
Enter the barbec-Hu. Sausages, chicken drumsticks, skewers and salads. Good, abundant and indulgent. The honey m-Hustard is particularly popular.

Glenliv-Hut 21yo (43%, OB Archive) (kruuk2): this one is not in theme, but we will drink it anyway. Nose: a lot more sherry here than anything else so far. Polished shoes, toffee, caramel sweets. Mouth: mocha, coffee. Finish: still the sherry trademark (coffee, mocha, leather) and some black pepper.

Tell me Hu-se shadow it is 
or I'll f-Huckin' stab ye!
Knockand-Hu 18yo 1994 (43%, OB) (sonicvince): the list of candidates included Knockdhu (who produce anCnoc), but of course, someone had to mistake it for Knockando. This one is probably more interesting than most official bottlings of Knockdhu, though, so it might be a good thing after all. Nose: chocolate shake, decaying... pears? No, apples. It carries a note of sulphur, though it is not annoying. Mouth: slightly sparkly and peppery. Finish: the chocolate speaks, now. This is not an unbelievable dram, but well honest. I used to be quite partial to an earlier version and am convinced this one will improve.

B-Hunna-abhain 1989/2001 (40%, GMP The MacPhail's, JA/ACC) (Psycho): again, not really in theme, but close enough. Nose: this one seems very animal -- leather sofas, autumnal fireplace (Psycho), floral (JSenny). Pear comes out after a while. Mouth: very pleasant fruit juice (pear, quince), marmalade, jelly, even, and a touch of vanilla (adc). Finish: lovely, long and fruity. 7/10

ruckus jokes that Psycho, with his shaved head, beard and sunshades, would look nice, clad in leather

Camembert overdose
Enter cheese: two barbecued Camemberts to dip bread into. Hugely unnecessary, but so good we all take part.

B-Hunna-abhain 27yo 1977/2005 (46.5%, Dewar Rattray Cask Collection, Hogshead, C#7868, 191b) (dom666): nose: squashed banana sprinkled with dried coconut shavings. All very nice, balanced and easy on the nose. Mouth: banane flambée, baba au rhum, crumble. Finish: lots of banane flambée, wood, which is a bit drying. A beautiful Bunnahabhain, elegant and easy. Dram of the day for ruckus. 8/10

Dr. Hu likes B-Hunna-abhain
B-Hunna-abhain 37yo 1968/2006 (42.1%, DT Rare Auld, C#7010, 350b) (dom666): nose: a lot more herbal (lemongrass), moving towards furniture wax, then marzipan. Mouth: almond milk, marzipan... oh dear! Is this good, or what? Creamy and slightly zesty. Finish: coconut, almond milk, long and creamy. Lovely. Better than ever. Dram of the day for dom666, at a draw with the following. 9/10

B-Hunna-abhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Fässle and whiskybase.com, Refill ex-Sherry Cask): this one was bought by the community. Today seems the right opportunity to open it and try it. Nose: verbena, dunnage warehouse, vanilla, but also pear and apricot. The nose fades away rather quickly, unfortunately. Mouth: peppered melon, creamy apricot and white peach. Finish: another one that goes: "oh yes, not bad," then knocks you out with (fleeting) fruit. The finish is a bit too dry, but eventually settles on papaya. A wonderful dram, dram of the day for sonicvince. Pity about the disappearing nose and the dry finish. 9/10

That cake
Enter dessert: the cake with the unspeakable name.

Poit Dhubh 21yo b.2008 (43%, Pràban na Linne) (me): nose: lots of sulphur (rotten eggs) and a generally maritime feel -- the Talisker speaks out. Far away from the previous drams, this. Mouth: sugar and salt, sweet and sour sauce. Balanced and pleasant, though it comes full with a salty tang. Finish: unexpectedly sherried, with a reasonable dose of cured meat and teriyaki sauce. 6/10

106.18 27yo 1984 Bottled essence of summer (SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 197b) (JS): nose: herbal and jammy. Pine tree, cloves, lime and sawdust. Excellent. Mouth: very jammy, still -- oranges and all sorts of citrus. Finish: powerful and delightful. Long, full of fruit (apples, mostly) and boasting the since-famous touch of clogged sink or hiking boots. Everyone laughs at me for that, but I like it enough. :-) 8/10

An amusing undead guest
Tamdhu 13yo 1990/2003 Sherry Finish (43%, IML Dun Bheagan, C#9041--9043, 2868b) (me): nose: washing-up liquid (dom666), naphthalene (Psycho), charcoal (adc). Sulphur and meat for me. Mouth: meat and dark cherries, as well as some coffee, the latter of which is less my thing. Finish: black cherries aplenty and Amaretto. Not the most balanced dram, but it has some redeeming qualities I never detected before (cherries). dom666 detests it so much he pours his in the plant pot instead of letting me finish it. Probably the weakest dram today, yet it is too invading to fit anywhere else in the line-up.

A tasting of epic proportions with lots of annoying flies and a few nice surprises. Good times.

Dr. Hu is watching y-Hu.

19 August 2013

10/08/2013 A couple of drams as an aperitive

Visiting the Heimat inexorably means drinking things that were left behind after I moved or things that belong to someone else. Only a few today, but they come with notes.

Knappogue Castle 36yo 1951/1987 (40%, Terra) (adc's): nose: aromatic herbs and also a lot meatier than ever before -- cured ham, barbecue, even ash and dust. A tiny whiff of metal, grass as well. Is it burnt tyre in the back? Or melting plastic? I detect plum eau-de-vie, while adc finds vanilla and dry, crumbling leaves. Mouth: soft and smooth, with a touch of latte, some dust and a vague bitterness (orange skins?) Finish: this is surely too subtle for many malt enthusiasts, but I love it. A combination of cold latte, chocolate-flavoured milk, caramel, a wee bit of grass, tarragon, and a remarkable overall balance! Once it settles in, it even displays fruit (citrus, according to adc). Kumquat? Pomelo? A wonderful dram. Why this is still available is a mystery to me (it is a bit pricey, but it was bottled close to thirty years ago). 8/10

Bladnoch 16yo 1991/2007 (51%, Taste Still, C#8411, 126b) (mine): nose: animal skin, brandy, grappa, quetsch -- any eau-de-vie made of "medium-sized" fruit, in fact. It then cools off with pineapple juice, while the second nosing brings forth leather and marmalade. Mouth: this seems rather neutral -- there is a bit of brandy again, and bakery, perhaps. Then grapes and blood orange flesh. A less-than-impressive bitterness emerges too. Not sure what it relates to -- plant juice? Very sharp marmalade, rather. Finish: lots of wood, vanilla, a warming feeling, ground pink pepper sprinkled over marmalade toasts. 7/10

Ardmore 19yo 1978/1998 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection) (mine): nose: pears, charred wood -- this is rather green, strangely enough. Strong citrus comes into play at second nosing and that is good news! Mouth: water in which charred wood was cooled off. Perhaps some plum eau-de-vie again? A hint of honey, or wax, a touch of pepper. All downplayed and subtle, mind you. Finish: fruity and floral, yet it is finally turning more into a recent Ardmore, with some ash and peat smoke, though it all remains quite subtle. 7/10

4 August 2013

03/08/2013 Summer barbecue

Afternoon at an American friend's for a sunny barbecue. The underlying idea (sort of) is to show off his whisk(e)y collection, so I bring a few things along. No exhaustive notes, this time; a mere placeholder.

Baby Blue BB 12.5 (46%, OB): nice, though not as round as expected. Very much full of corn.
True Blue 100 PROOF (50%, OB): much more to my taste. Corn syrup aplenty and more quaffable, despite the additional 4%.
Balcones #1: Balcones' flagship, according to the host. It is rougher around the edges and, although not bad, it is less my thing.
Eagle Rare 10yo Single Barrel (45%, OB): Buffalo Trace is usually very nice; this one does not break that pattern. Pick of the lot for me.
Yamazaki 12yo (40%, OB): OK, a bit sharpish. Lots of wood.
Zuidam 4yo 2007/2011 (46%, Milroy's Selection Number 1, American Oak, C#8448, 298b) (the neighbour): surprisingly pleasant. Full of orange peels and rather floral. Who said orange tulips? Bueller? First Dutch whisky -- or is it?
Balvenie 14yo Golden Cask (43%, OB) (me): not having that one myself, today. Surprisingly, people are less enthusiastic about it than they usually are.
Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 (43%, DMG Provenance, Refill Hogshead, Ref DMG 5569) (me): the host, who normally does not care for Scotch admits this one is actually a lot nicer than he expected. It is light with a bitter after-taste of flower-stem juice. 7/10
Blair Athol 12yo (43%, OB) (me): both the host and the neighbour seem to like this one and agree it is a winter-warmer. It is an honest, sherried dram, a good introduction to that kind of taste, medium wide, medium long and leathery, with a touch of tobacco (cigar). 7/10
Talisker 10yo (45.8%, OB): I do not have this one either -- well-known and not the weather for it, not to mention I am not a fan.

One of the girls says she likes whisky from time to time and her favourite are St Magdalene and TaLIsker. Have to do a double take on that to believe it. Not the unusual Talisker pronunciation, but the fact she just mentioned a distillery that has been shut for over 30 years and is not all that well known outside the geekiness of circles I am accustomed to. It turns out her father is a collector. Ha!